In 1997 I became certified as a SCUBA diver. I don’t get to dive very often, but when I do, each experience is memorable. The ocean world holds an amazing array of plant and animal life that’s totally different from what we see on land. I’m the kind of person whose mind wanders into the future a lot, so diving helps me focus on the present moment in two important ways.
For one thing, there are gauges to check. I have to be aware of how much air I’ve got in my tank and how deep I’ve gone because those factors determine how long I can stay underwater.
And then…there’s simply taking in the beauty that lies beneath the surface. The brilliantly colored fish and coral reefs are breath-taking. I’ll never forget the time I spent several minutes face-to-face with a red grouper, both of us hovering just above the floor of the ocean. While I was studying this beautiful fish (and it, apparently, studying me in return), time seemed to stand still.
Even though there’s much to appreciate in your own life, you may not always be aware of the positives. That’s because you have to make a concentrated effort to absorb what’s happening around you.
When you’re busy analyzing the past, solving problems and planning for the future—all of which are necessary—you can overlook the wonders right in front of you. The moment passes and you haven’t really experienced it because your mind was somewhere else.
The solution is to keep your eyes wide open to whatever presents itself each moment. That way, you’ll see things you might otherwise ignore…
Like a spectacular sunset…
Or flowers blooming along the side of the road…
Or the person sitting in front of you who’s trying to tell you something important. If you’re not fully present, you’ll miss their tone of voice and facial expression. You won’t detect the thoughts and feeling behind their words.
Remember, it’s important to slow down and pay attention to the details of what’s going on around you. When you do, you’ll see that each moment is uniquely valuable and offers you an opportunity to enrich your life.
“One of the earliest lessons I learned as a child was that if you looked away from something, it might not be there when you looked back.” – John Edgar Wideman, American author (1941- )